UK FOOTBALL | Three keys to defeating No. 25 Missouri
09/26/2015 11:58 AM
LEXINGTON — More than just a game will be on the line when the Kentucky Wildcats take on No. 25 Missouri on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.
With a victory, UK would move to 3-1 for the second straight season, beat the Tigers for the first time since they joined the SEC (2012), and end an 18-game losing streak to ranked opponents (No. 10 South Carolina, 2010).
Also, not to get too hasty, but a 3-1 start would clarify Kentucky’s path to its first bowl game in five seasons.
Six wins would be enough to get UK into the postseason, and the Wildcats look to be heavily favored in upcoming games against Eastern Kentucky (Oct. 3), Vanderbilt (Nov. 14), and Charlotte (Nov. 21) to reach the mark.
But as Big Blue Nation learned all too well last season, not even a 5-1 start can secure bowl certainty, and no game can be taken for granted.
Here are the three keys to victory over No. 25 and another big step towards postseason eligibility:
1. Score First
Kentucky almost struct first against Florida, but a pair of drops from receiver Dorian Baker on UK’s first possesion reversed what could have (and should have) been a 7-0 UK lead to being an early 0-7 deficit.
Allowing a mere 9.7 points per game, Missouri brings the No. 5 scoring defense in the nation to Lexington, but a quick score and early lead will prevent the Wildcats from playing catchup and set the tone for the rest of the contest.
2. Disciplined Defense
The Kentucky defense was stellar against Florida, posting season bests in both points (14) and yards (245) allowed.
Missouri’s weakness is its offense, especially with lead running Russell Hansbrough hindered by an ankle injury. Quarterback Maty Mauk is also a threat on the ground, rushing for 96 yards and a touchdown through three games. But his passing has been inconsistent, completing just over 52% of his passes while also throwing four interceptions.
If Kentucky’s defense remains disciplined to prevent Mauk from scrambling, Missouri’s offense will become one-dimensional and struggle to put points on the board.
3. Block, Please Block
As for Kentucky’s offense, its all about the work in the trenches.
UK’s offensive line has allowed an SEC-leading 10 sacks already this season with six coming just last week against Florida. Towles has had his issues, but he also needs time in the pocket to be successful.
If the line can block to open the running game, Boom Williams, Jojo Kemp, and Mikel Horton can carry the load on offense and limit the pressure placed on Towles and his slippery-handed receiving core.
- SCORE PREDICTION: KENTUCKY 21, MISSOURI 17